Can I tell you a secret? Even though I’ve been to Istanbul five times, I’ve literally never been there when there was bad weather!
That’s because visiting Istanbul in January, May, and June, I’ve gotten to experience the best of Istanbul summer (before it gets too hot) and winter (when you can indulge in the best Istanbul winter activities). And as far as Istanbul weather in January? I looooove it!
Planning a trip to Turkey in January? Check out Istanbul in Winter: 17 Things to Do on Your Turkish Winter Getaway
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Where to Stay in Istanbul in January?
Accommodations in Istanbul offer a great value compared to other cities in Europe. Here is a general range of what we mean by each budget category:
- Budget: A room in a hostel, usually $5-12 USD per night for a dorm bed or under $40 for a double.
- Mid-range: Around $40-80
- Luxury: Around $100 per night or more
Budget: For a great budget-friendly hotel, you can stay in the single or double rooms at the Dreamers B&B. Colorful and cozy, the B&B boasts a fabulous location in Beyoglu, less than a kilometer from Taksim Square. You can explore all of Beyoglu from here, and then head to Sultanahmet when you’re ready to see the old city.
Mid-Range: For an affordable, yet trendy boutique hotel, we recommend Peradays. It’s perfect for all Istanbul visitors, from first-timers to Istanbul veterans. The lofted rooms are generously large, so you can spread out and relax after a long day of sightseeing. They also have two cats that live here, Pera and Daisy, which you’ll be happy to greet after counting cats all day when out in the city.
Luxury: Istanbul has no shortage of fabulous hotels, but we love Hammamhane, a boutique apartment-hotel that was originally a hammam, and the sister hotel of Peradays. Built in a historic hammam (Turkish bath), the suites are spacious and luxurious. Located in the heart of Cukurcuma, the antiques district, Hammamhane is within walking distance to art galleries, design stores, antique shops, and chic cafés. It’s on-site hammam just opened, so it’s even better for
Still can’t decide? Check out our guide to the best Istanbul neighborhoods and hotels.
What is the weather like in Istanbul in January?
Most people outside of the region have no idea what to expect weather-wise for January in Istanbul. Here are my experiences and the averages you can expect.
My Experience in Istanbul in January
During my trip to Istanbul this January, I found the weather was chilled but not too cold. We saw a few snowflakes here and there, but nothing that stuck. I would have loved to get some great photos of Istanbul in the snow, but alas, it was not to be.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking for a great Istanbul winter-themed souvenir, Amant Turc in Galata sells beautiful photography of Istanbul during a snowstorm. I’m obsessed with mine! You can find the details for the gallery in my Istanbul shopping guide.
For the most part, we were able to do every activity that I would want to do, but we just made sure we had some extra clothing layers. My (p)leather H&M jacket, Zara scarf, and some Torrid leggings did the trick. While I typically suggest someone upgrade to fleece leggings for winter city travel, it was not necessary for our trip.
Overall during our stay, it was about 43 degrees Fahrenheit (about 6 degrees Celcius) for our entire trip. It rained a bit, it snowed a bit without sticking, and I still spent tons of time walking around outside (including walking from Bebek to Arnavutkoy.
Statistics and Averages for January Weather in Istanbul
So that was my trip, but what can you expect?
Average January Temperatures
The average temperature for the month is exactly what I experienced – 43 degrees Fahrenheit (6 degrees Celcius). Cool, huh?
The average high is 46 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celcius), while the average low temperature is 39 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celcius).
I’m happy to report that what I experienced is pretty much what you can expect. Of course, as your trip approaches, you should double check the weather report. It can always be colder or warmer than the average Istanbul temperatures.
Does It Snow in Istanbul in January?
Yes, but not every day. There is an average of four snow days in Istanbul every January. If you want those pretty snow pictures, you might be sad to know that on any typical January day it’s not likely to snow. However, when it does, it’s truly lovely.
How Much Sun Can I Expect?
Most days in January you can expect at least partial overcast skies and cloud cover. There is an average of three hours of sunshine each day, but it can be difficult to predict exactly when those hours will be.
If you are just coming to enjoy a trip, the cloud cover will not keep any of the best Istanbul activities closed. However, if you’re an avid photographer looking for the best Instagram spots around Istanbul, January weather can either give your shots a boost or make it difficult to capture exactly what you want.
If the weather isn’t cooperating, you can always take some photos inside some of the city’s most beautiful interiors like the Ortakoy Mosque instead of solely focusing on the building’s exterior.
Average Rainfall in Istanbul in January
January averages fourteen days of rain. However, these are not torrential downpours, and most rainy days will have periods of sun and clouds with rain bursts and drizzles in between.
It’s always great to have a list of places to escape the rain if the forecast predicts wet weather. Our favorite indoor activities? Mosques, museums, the Hagia Sophia (technically, yes, a museum, but so much more), the Basilica Cisterns, smoking shisha, enjoying raki, stuffing your face with mezze, etc.
And of course, you can never go wrong if you wait out a quick rainstorm with a delicious Turkish coffee!
If your entire Istanbul trip happened to be rainy, you can still have a fabulous time! Use Uber to avoid being outside in the rain, and flit from great indoor activity to great indoor activity. We’re partial to the food and wine scene, but you could spend a week exploring indoor Istanbul and not run out of awesome things to do.
More Istanbul Travel Resources
We have a ton of resources to help you plan your trip to Istanbul! First, start with our top 50 Istanbul travel tips – virtually every question you might have about visiting Istanbul should be covered here. Plus we have our best Istanbul safety tips to keep you safe in Istanbul.
We’re working on our massive things to do post in Istanbul, plus you can check out our guide to the best Instagram spots around Istanbul, our favorite Istanbul neighborhoods and where to stay, what to do in Istanbul at night, and tips for shopping in Istanbul. If you will definitely be coming in winter, we have a special winter in Istanbul guide.
If you want to be in the city for just a few days (four or less), check out our Istanbul city break guide, which breaks down the best of the city so you won’t miss anything!
For more general Turkey information, check out this guide to planning a trip to Turkey (including visa information) and this guide to other beautiful places to visit in Turkey. You can also check out our Balkan currency guide, which explains how the Turkish lira works and guidelines for tipping in Istanbul.
If you will also be traveling to Cappadocia, we have this massive DIY Cappadocia itinerary post that will be helpful to read if you are not going on a guided excursion. If you’re curious about the most Instagrammable places in Cappadocia, we’ve got you covered. We’ve also written extensively about the best cave hotels for all budgets here in Cappadocia.
Don’t Forget about Travel Insurance!
It’s always a good idea to travel to Turkey or anywhere in Europe with a valid travel insurance policy. Istanbul is a very safe place to travel, but accidents or theft can easily ruin your trip if you don’t have the travel insurance coverage to recover the losses. Recently my aunt fell on a train in France and needed surgery, but luckily her travel insurance covered the costs in full. Thank goodness!
For travel insurance, I use World Nomads. I’ve been a happy customer of theirs for almost three years, and I’ve never had an issue when making a claim. I’m happy to refer them to anyone I meet.
Pin this Guide to Istanbul Weather in January for Your Trip!
Stephanie has been living in and traveling around the Balkans for the past three years. She’s written for National Geographic Online, appeared on CNN Arabic and in the New York Times, and ridden more Balkan buses than is good for a person.